What To Do When You Get An Alzheimer’s Diagnosis

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Getting an official diagnosis that memory lapses are the result of Alzheimer’s or dementia is life-altering. If you or your loved one still function “normally” in day-to-day life, it can be tempting to go into denial and pretend as if everything’s just fine until there are more obvious or alarming signs that compromise the quality of life.

The truth is, however, that fast-action is the key to creating both short- and long-term care plans. There is still no cure for Alzheimer’s, and it is considered a progressive disease. The rate at which it progresses varies for each person, but it can happen more rapidly than expected, and this places the person with Alzheimer’s, his/her spouse, and loved ones in a crisis state.

Taking Timely, Methodical Actions After An Alzheimer’s Diagnosis

The more you learn about Alzheimer’s, and Alzheimer’s resources in your area, the faster you’ll be able to establish a personalized plan of action.

The goal is to give the person with Alzheimer’s ability to make some decisions for him/herself whenever possible. This becomes challenging – and then impossible – as the condition progresses because transitions are detrimental if you wait too long.

Learn about the disease and current treatment options

Hopefully, your medical team, including the neurologist, have provided you with lots of information about Alzheimer’s, all together it’s progression, and the known medications, lifestyle changes and treatment options that support a patient’s wellbeing.

Other helpful resources for learning about Alzheimer’s include:

Don’t hesitate to call or email your primary physician to schedule a follow-up appointment, so you can ask questions and listen to the answers you may not have been able to take in during the immediate consultation after the Alzheimer’s diagnosis.

Start the conversation regarding memory care options

Memory care will play a role at some point, and the quality of this care – and its ability to improve the quality of life for your loved one – is 100% related to how soon s/he transitions into the right community. This will probably require multiple conversations as you weigh the pros and cons of various options, and tour facilities and communities.

While the idea of staying home is preferred by many, caregiving for a middle- to late-stage Alzheimer’s patient is a full-time job. 

Unfortunately, contrary to the original plan, many spouses or close family members realize too late that they aren’t capable of providing the level of care required, 24/7. That results in a very traumatic transition into memory care, assisted living or nursing home care – and it may mean having to give up your first-choice if they don’t have space when you finally make a decision.

Tour your options as soon as you can

It’s helpful for prospective residents to tour memory care options themselves so they have some autonomy in the decision. However, we understand that this can be scary and nerve-wracking for many – and that some simply refuse to do it all together.

If your loved one is resistant to touring options with you, we recommend inviting a close family member or friend to accompany and support you. You might find starting the process solo – bringing back information and ideas – will motivate your spouse or loved one to accompany you the next time.

Read,Questions to Ask When Touring Memory Care Facilities, so you get the information and details you need to make a good decision.

Start to plan for the financial side of things

Memory care is an expense – whether you’re hiring full-time caregivers in your home or you transition into a memory care center. Unless your financial plan already accommodated for extended, long-term care of some kind – you’ll need to start preparing your finances.

Read,Affording Alzheimer’s Care, for some helpful ideas and tips for funding high-quality memory care.

There are situations where Medicare and Medicaid can subsidize expenses, but they rarely pay for the entirety of the costs associated with memory care. After establishing memory care options in your area, their administration and staff will help you review the realm of financial and payment choices available to you.

Keep your loved one as engaged and active as possible

Studies show over and over again that early action in terms of diet, lifestyle habits, social engagement, and mental stimulation are all key to slowing down and decreasing the progression of Alzheimer’s and dementia.

Often, the shock or embarrassment of an Alzheimer’s diagnosis, combined with the complications associated with fading memory and social situations, leads to social isolation. This is a worst-case scenario because mental and social stimulation keeps those neural pathways open and firing.

Try to find daily activities, outings, and social settings that inspire feelings of connections, safety, and security for your loved one. This could also include taking advantage of adult day care options at a prospective memory care center as part of the transition into becoming a resident.

Establish your support network

Being a spouse, partner, or primary caregiver for someone with Alzheimer’s is a challenging job. You are going to need a range of support to help along the way.

Ideas include:

  • Learning about Alzheimer’s resources and support in your community
  • Working with a therapist or counselor to help you cope with the range of emotions that come up along the journey
  • Joining an Alzheimer’s support group
  • Ensuring you have respite care available to provide regular, much-needed breaks
  • Eating well, exercising, and maintaining social networks to prevent caregiver burnout

It takes a village to care for both those with Alzheimer’s as well as their spouses, family members, and loved ones. Establishing your support network while you have the time and space to do so allows you to activate support options as needed down the road.

Handling A Loved One’s Alzheimer’s Diagnosis

Remember: there is never a need to go it alone. 

After an Alzheimer’s diagnosis, enlist the support of family and friends to help you move forward – step-by-step.

Learn more about your loved one’s Alzheimer’s diagnosis and find support in these articles: 

17 Questions to Ask Memory Care Facilities When Touring

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When you are making a decision like this man and woman sitting on a couch, evaluating options, determine the questions to ask memory care facilities.Sometimes you have to turn the tables, shift your perspective and look at things from a different angle in order to find the right answer. This is certainly the case when it’s time to search for the right type of memory care for yourself – or a loved one.

Life changes drastically when it’s time to plan for memory care. Remember: while this may feel like a sacrifice of autonomy and “normal” life, the right memory care community reclaims these things in a new way.

Click here to access the checklist now

Asking the Right Questions Leads to the Right Memory Care Community

Taking a gently assertive role as you interview (yes, interview!) prospective memory care communities via their director(s) and staff, you will know when you find “the one” for you.

You decide where – and by whom – loved ones will be cared for as their Alzheimer’s or dementia progresses. You’ll need to develop sharp “interviewing skills” as you learn which memory care communities or centers meet the essential criteria you require.

The following questions align with The Joint Commission’s Memory Care Requirements. Have these comprehensive guidelines on-hand as you move forward in the decision-making process – and you are encouraged to add your own questions.

With the director’s/staff permission, it is a good idea to record these “interview/introductory” meetings. That way, you can be fully present, knowing you can play the recording back later on.

After visiting the centers on your list, you can compare their care plans and care options, eliminating some and bumping others to the top of the list, narrowing in on your final choice.

Questions Regarding Memory Care Staffing

Do you have a Medical Director on staff?

Among the questions to ask memory care facilities, ask about the staffing. A smiling female medical staff member in scrubs.

Who’s at the helm, so to speak, when it comes to steering the physical and emotional well-being of the residents?

A community that is dedicated to serving the physical, mental, and emotional health of their residents will have the appropriate leadership to do so. Verify that they have a Medical Director on staff.

Are there RNs or LPNs on staff? If so, how many? Are they on-site 24/7?

Most high-quality memory care centers have RNs and/or LPNs on staff. They oversee any physical and/or medical needs that may arise in the course of a day. At these centers, skilled nursing staff report directly to the community’s lead physicians as needed.

Consistent staff assignments (the same caregivers caring for the same patients) build meaningful connections that foster personalized care services. Ideally, trained medical staff are available 24/7.

What medical services are available?

The bulk of the residents’ medical needs can be diagnosed/treated with on-site medical services, including:

  • Labs
  • X-Rays
  • PT/OT/SP Therapy
  • Home Health
  • Hospice
  • Podiatry
  • Pharmacy

Not only does this expedite care, it eliminates confusion associated with resident location changes and non-routine appointments.

What types of training does the staff have? 

All members of the caregiving staff should maintain ongoing, annual training in alignment with current best-practices for memory care. Participation in professional education/training should be documented.

What are staffing ratios for each shift?

The lower the ratio of staff:resident, the better a memory care facility can promote resident safety and well-being. Optimally, you’re looking for a 1:6 resident to staff ratio (or better).

However, according to payingforseniorcare.com, “…time and time again, relevant research has shown that assisted living communities with full-time RNs and direct care with in-house nursing staff have a direct impact on resident outcomes.”

Questions Regarding Memory Care Policies & Fees

  • Can my loved one stay here through the end of life or do they have to move if their care becomes too extensive?
  • What types of care can your community NOT provide?
  • What is the policy for a medical emergency/ER visit?
  • Does a staff member go with the resident on ER visits?
  • What is the policy for notifying family members?
  • What is the discharge policy?
  • Is the community all-inclusive or are there additional costs (i.e., cable TV, phone, medication fees, levels of care costs, activities/outings, transportation)?
  • Can my loved one return to the facility should they require outside rehab?
  • What happens if my loved one is no longer ambulatory?

Questions Regarding Amenities and Outings

Great memory care communities are unmistakable – they are vibrant places. These communities offer residents top-notch special memory care while they create new, colorful and creative lives.

A smiling elderly woman in a wheelchair looks up and takes the hand of another woman, while a smiling memory care facility caregiver looks on.

This means senior living at its best: attractive grounds, community gardens, recreation, and creative opportunities as well as safely organized outside trips.

Questions worth asking include:

  • What are the daily activities like, and are they every day of the week?
  • Do you charge for outside activities (for example: lunch outings, museums, etc.)?
  • Do you have Semi-Private and Private rooms? If cost is of concern, semi-private rooms can save residents thousands of dollars per year.

Ultimately, memory care communities should provide a rich spectrum of daily activities – offered in the morning, afternoon and evening. This ensures your loved one has access to fun, interesting and stimulating activities regardless of when his/her “best hours of the day” may be.

These activities should include a range of interests, hobbies and preferred modalities. Things like art, poetry, music, dancing, games, supervised cooking, sports and exercise, and social activities should all be on the menu.

All of these types of activities have been proven to slow the progression of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease and enhance the mood of those who suffer from cognitive decline.

But don’t forget the most important question of all…

Which memory care community makes you feel the most safe, comfortable and secure?

Be attentive to your intuition. As you tour prospective communities, the answers to your questions are important, but so are your instincts. With that in mind, feel free to use our checklist, with all the questions you read here:


Click here to access the checklist now

The Latest Alzheimer’s Facts, Figures & Stats [2020]

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Medicine’s understanding of Alzheimer’s, and its effects on the human brain, is still in the pioneering phases. While we learn more all the time about how genetics, life events, and lifestyle components are involved in catalyzing the initial signs and progression of Alzheimer’s, the cure remains elusive.

With respect to the ever-emerging science pertaining to the causes, treatments, and potential for Alzheimer’s disease, we update our Alzheimer’s Disease Fact Sheet regularly to reflect the current research.

Accurate Facts, Figures, & Stats Improve Alzheimer’s Quality of Life

The more you remain up to date on the current research and studies’ findings, including Alzheimer’s facts, figures, and stats, the better you can improve the quality of life for yourself and the ones you love.

First, we’ll begin with some basic, bullet-point facts about Alzheimer’s disease (AD), followed by more detailed information to support the care and support provided for those with AD. The following facts are derived from two helpful AD resources: The NIH’s page on Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Alzinfo.org.

Visit our Resource Guide for Alzheimer’s Care & Support for more helpful AD websites.

  • AD is the sixth-leading cause of death in the United States
  • Most people with late-onset AD exhibit signs and symptoms as early as their 60s, even if the diagnosis doesn’t happen until much later (more on that below).
  • Experts believe that AD-related changes in the brain may actually start as much as ten years before the beginning symptoms are detectable.
  • Early-onset AD comprises about 10% of the Alzheimer’s population and is typically noticed/diagnosed between the ages of 30 and 60.
  • Someone is diagnosed with AD about every 65 seconds.
  • Doctors predict as many as 14 million Americans will be living with Alzheimer’s by the year 2050.
  • One-third of all seniors die with Alzheimer’s or some other dementia-related condition
  • It costs about 350K per person to support the long-term health and wellbeing of an AD patient (read, Is Medicare/Medicaid an Option… for information about financing the care you need).
  • There are multiple forms of AD and dementia – early-onset, late-onset, Lewy Body, Parkinson’s-related, etc. Care and treatment plans may vary depending on the type.
  • Alzheimer’s genes (and other biomarkers) are identified, but they are not the sole cause of AD, nor does the presence of the genes mean an individual will get AD. 
  • There is no specific treatment for AD or dementia, although some drug treatment protocols slow its progression.
  • Certain lifestyle changes have been shown to slow down the progression of AD.

Those last two points are part of what makes living with Alzheimer’s so challenging. There are not always clear reasons why a person has the disease, and there is no tried-and-true treatment for AD at this time.

This is why ongoing research around Alzheimer’s potential causes and treatment methods is so important. The more we learn about the brain and how it is affected by Alzheimer’s-related proteins, amyloid plaques, and tau tangles, the closer we get to a potential cure. 

Early Diagnosis is Key

Because Alzheimer’s is often diagnosed at the beginning of the middle-stage, when cognitive impairment is too dramatic to ignore, patients, families, and caregivers miss the opportunity to make decisions before things are chaotic and stressful. By diagnosing AD in the early stages, you have time to:

  • Learn all you can and make a long-term AD care plan that involves the individuals’ wishes, desires, and goals
  • Make smart decisions about caregivers or facilities
  • Tour memory care centers
  • Implement diet and lifestyle changes that reduce inflammation and support a healthier mind and body.

Read What to Do About an Alzheimer’s Diagnosis to learn more about the first, critical items to consider in the wake of an official diagnosis.

Re-Evaluate Diet & Make Anti-inflammatory Shifts

Recent studies have shown that high-fat, high-sugar diets “prime the brain” for AD. Diets that are higher in fats, sugars, and processed foods contribute to inflammation in both the hippocampus and the frontal lobe of the brain, two areas that experience AD decline. 

Patients who have AD and who maintain their high-fat/sugar diets tend to progress more rapidly through the disease’s stages and have lower life expectancies. Making the switch to an inflammatory diet is a powerful one. The Fischer Center for Alzheimer’s Research writes, “Older men and women who ate a Mediterranean-style diet showed less shrinkage of the brain than their peers who did not eat foods typical of the Mediterranean region.”

Click here to read more about anti-inflammatory, Alzheimer’s-oriented diet recommendations.

Establish a Healthy Circadian Rhythm

You may have heard about sundowner’s syndrome, or you may have personal experience with it if you’re currently an AD caregiver. The more we learn about the body’s need for natural daylight and dark to maintain essential biochemical balance in the brain, the more there is a need to establish a healthy circadian rhythm in the home.

Alz.org’s page on Sleep Issues & Sundowning offers tips for how to establish healthy daily and nighttime rhythms to prevent these issues and support brain health. When you begin looking for long-term care options, make sure to ask about how they help to prevent and support sundowning for their residents.

Social Engagement & Activities Are Essential

The NIH states in addition to healthy diet and lifestyle practices, “… social engagement, and mentally stimulating pursuits…might also help reduce the risk of cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s disease.” 

If your loved one tends to retreat into depressed, anxious, or embarrassed seclusion, get in touch with Alzheimer’s support groups in your area, and learn how to keep AD patients socially stimulated and engaged to boost morale and their quality of life. 

Your busy calendar doesn’t have to be put on hold. Contact Adult Day Care or Respite Care options in your area to keep your loved one safe and ensure s/he remains social, participating in activities s/he enjoys to promote overall well being.

Click the links below for more helpful information on memory care and supporting your loved one through their Alzheimer’s diagnosis. 

The Memory Center Response To Covid-19

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The Memory Center COVID-19 Prevention Efforts – Updated March 19, 2020

Since the virus was first reported, The Memory Center has been very proactive in monitoring the situation via news reports from the Virginia Department of Health, the Georgia Department of Community Health, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), other health agencies and our Medical Directors.  

We are continually evaluating our policies and protocols and taking extra precautions to protect our residents and staff.  We are committed to helping you stay informed about the Coronavirus (COVID-19) and are working to ensure that we are prepared.  The well-being of our residents and staff are our top priority.  

We are restricting access to our communities to essential visitors only.   We define essential visitors as follows:

  1. Vendors who provide essential services. (Food, pharmacy, supplies both medical and non and Licensed Hospice Staff)
  2. Families of residents who are at the end of life stage
  3. Staff of The Memory Center

We will continue to be closed to non-essential visitors.  This includes but is not limited to:

  1. Family members of residents not in imminent end-of-life situations
  2. Entertainers
  3. Volunteers
  4. Salon/spa providers

Screening of all essential visitors will remain in place until further notice.

  • Staff temperatures are being taken two times per day and results are recorded.
  • Resident temperatures and pulse oximetry readings are being done on all three shifts
  • A COVID-19 Screening questionnaire is being completed every Monday for all staff.  All other essential visitors are completing this screening questionnaire and having their temperature taken prior to allowing access to the delivery sites.
  • Continued education with staff on CDC recommendations to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

We are regularly updating The Memory Center’s families via email, social medial and over the phone.

If you have any questions, as always, please reach out to your Community’s Executive Director.

TMC Virginia Beach Job Fair

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The Memory Center Virginia Beach is looking to add energetic
and dedicated team members!

Positions available include:

LPNs, Certified Nursing Assistants, Registered Medication Aids and Housekeeping.

Join us Friday, February 7, 2020 to learn more about The Memory Center. Same day interviews will be available.

Click the image to download a flyer and learn more.
Click for a larger image.

Keeping Your Loved One With Dementia At Home: Is It The Best Option?

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Deciding when to move a loved one from home-based care to a memory care center is a difficult topic. In most cases, spouses and families opt to wait until their loved one is in the middle- to later-stages of memory care in order to keep them at home – in a familiar space – as long as possible.

While these intentions are sound, the reality is that those with dementia and Alzheimer’s seem to experience longer, higher-quality lives when they are moved to a memory care center sooner rather than later.

Moving Into Memory Care Sooner Offers Higher Quality of Living

Here are some of the reasons quality of life is improved when spouses, parents, or loved ones move into a memory care center rather than remaining at home.

Keep ahead of the memory decline curve

A succinct post on alzheimers.net describes how Alzheimer’s evolves from preclinical Alzheimer’s (the first symptoms) to the late stages of severe cognitive decline. 

By moving a loved one into memory care center ahead of the “moderate decline” point on the curve, you improve the quality of your loved one’s life because:

  • Residents have the ability to settle in, learn their way around and become familiar with the staff, their neighbors and medical professionals while they still have cognitive function.
  • 100% of their daily life is geared toward memory care specific-diets, activities, routines, outings, etc., which keeps them active and engaged.
  • They are closely monitored by experienced clinical and medical staff who can notice and address any shifts, declines, or behaviors that are immediately improved via changes in medication, treatments, or therapies.

Research continues to show that while dementia isn’t reversible in most cases, dementia-specific care and attention notably slows its progression. And, the health professionals working at memory care centers are always at the forefront of the latest memory care research and treatment options.

Continuous social engagement

In most cases, pre-dementia life involves far more personal and social engagement, along with mental stimulation, than the post-dementia diagnosis lifestyle. 

This is especially true if the person is taken care of at home. The comfort of home and increasing care from immediate family members and caregivers is valuable, but it almost inevitably leads to an individual who spends most of his/her time sitting or lying down, not very engaged with those around them, rapidly turning inward on themselves.

While the initial transition may be emotionally difficult, it’s amazing to see how those with earlier stages of dementia and Alzheimer’s blossom when they move into their new memory care environment. 

For one thing, there is no reason to maintain a pretense of “normalcy” – which is incredibly taxing for those who remain among their cognitively healthy family and friends. That “acting to keep it together” becomes a great strain.

Instead, the barriers can go down, the unknown can be explored and embraced with others in the same situation, and there is a whole new world of activities that are all geared for their wellbeing. 

Also, due to innovations such as Town Center concepts and village-like designs, memory care residents’ world becomes more vibrant (and manageable) as a result of their new environment.

Extended life expectancy and quality of life

Those who work in the very special realm of memory care know that residents who move here earlier get more comfortable and assimilate more quickly into their new life. They are more social and active, participate more willingly in the spectrum of amenities and activities offered at The Memory Center. 

As a result, those who move here during the earlier- to early-mid stages of Alzheimer’s or dementia live an average of two years longer than their counterparts.

On the other hand, individuals who move here during the later stages of the disease have the same life expectancy of those who move into more traditional nursing homes – somewhere around six months on average – because they simply don’t have the ability to enjoy all of the resources a memory care center offers them.

Ask yourself who you are protecting or taking care of

In the deep and heartfelt conversations, we have the honor and privilege to facilitate with our residents’ families, we often witness a spouse or child caregiver come to a painful awareness.

This wrenching revelation is that they waited so long to transition their beloved mate or family member into memory care because they, themselves, were having a difficult time accepting the new reality.

In many cases, the individual with dementia or Alzheimer’s asked to move or encouraged their caregivers to let them move somewhere else, but guilt or a feeling of resistance held their caregiver back. You may feel like moving them somewhere is a surrender of your obligation when, in fact, it allows you to reclaim a more loving, connected relationship.

Is there any chance your resistance has more to do with a personal desire to “keep things as they are?”. Is your fear that memory care isn’t affordable a means of shielding yourself from the reality of the situation and what’s best for the one you love and hate to see go? 

If so, we recommend taking advantage of one or more of the amazing outlets for Alzheimer’s support here in our area to help you work through your feelings.

If finances are a concern, read, How to Find Affordable Memory Care & Assisted Living, to see if there are any avenues or resources you’ve yet to tap.

Ensuring A Smooth Transition Into Memory Care

We assure you that transitioning a loved one into the right memory care facility will enhance everyone’s life – freeing up time and space to explore the new relationship that must be forged with a dementia diagnosis, as well as your new paths forward.

There is always time required to form a new plan after receiving dementia or Alzheimer’s diagnosis. However, research shows that the sooner memory care and treatment are available, the better it is for most individuals with dementia or Alzheimer’s.

Learn more from these helpful resources: 

Is Medicare/Medicaid An Option For To Pay For Memory Center/Assisted Living?

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Financing a residency at a memory care center or assisted living facility can seem overwhelming at first. 

If that’s the case for you, know that most residents and their families take a multi-faceted approach to finance long-term care for loved ones with Alzheimer’s or dementia. Many people ask if funding from Medicare or Medicaid is an option, but the answer can be complicated.

In the case of Medicare, these are some funding allotments are available intermittently, but only covering specific medical events or situations. For this reason, Medicare is not usually viewed as a consistent or foundational source of funding for Alzheimer’s or dementia care, which is also the case at The Memory Center communities. 

If financing the cost of your preferred memory care center without Medicare or Medicaid  is a factor for you, read our post, Affording Alzheimer’s Care, for more information.

How To Finance Memory Care & Assisted Living Without Medicaid or Medicare

Most individuals who transfer from home-based care into memory care or assisted living use a combination of financing sources. This includes financial support from:

  • Retirement investments/savings
  • Social Security or another pension(s)
  • The sale of a home or property
  • Taking a reverse mortgage out on a home
  • Financial support from family members
  • Long-term care insurance
  • Private health insurance
  • Medicare/Medicaid for specific or qualifying events
  • Veteran’s benefits

When touring prospective communities or facilities, make sure to ask about monthly fees and exactly what they cover, learn more about their recommendations. If you are relying on Medicare/Medicaid coverage you will want to find out what, if anything, is covered in a community up front and also speak to your benefits coordinator.

When Are Medicare & Medicaid Are Viable Options For Qualifying Individuals?

In most cases, Medicare or Medicaid covers a portion of care costs for qualifying patients. 

The term “qualifying” is the key here. Both programs are forms of federal assistance, but they differ in terms of benefits qualifications.

Seeking Financial Assistance From Medicare

Medicare is available to seniors 65-years and older OR individuals younger than 65-years who have qualified for Social Security benefits for at least 24-months prior. 

In most cases pertaining to adults younger than 65, this comes by way of disability benefits.

If your loved one is showing signs or has been diagnosed with early onset dementia, speak to your doctor and schedule an appointment with your local Social Security Administration to learn more about what’s required to qualify for disability benefits. The combination of disability benefits and Medicare can considerably reduce your out-of-pocket care costs.

If you or your loved one are 65-years of age and you qualify to receive social security benefits, you are eligible for Medicare. You should have received ample notification to enroll in Medicare roughly three months before your 65th birthday. If not, enroll ASAP to avoid potential penalties.

All of the costs covered by Medicare can be applied to memory care centers or assisted living facilities who are willing to accept and work with Medicare billing. It’s important to note that in almost all cases, individuals have to be in the later stages of dementia or Alzheimer’s before Medicare coverage is available for anything other than medical appointments and treatments and not all communities work with Medicare benefits.

Typical Costs Covered by Medicare

Medicare is most likely to cover the following costs:

  • Inpatient hospital fees, doctor’s visits, and some medical items for residents 65-years and older. If you have a Medicare Part D plan, prescriptions may also be covered.
  • In limited circumstances, Medicare pays for up to 100 days of skilled nursing home care, following a hospital stay, although it does not cover long-term nursing home care.
  • Hospice services, including when they take place at a nursing home or inpatient hospice center when patients are determined to have six months or less to live.

We recommend visiting Medicare’s webpage regarding Alzheimer’s coverage for more specific information about what is and isn’t covered. As this page so aptly puts it:

“Despite its shortcomings, Medicare, when used fully – and especially when augmented with Medicare Supplemental Insurance – can make a significant contribution towards the expense of caring for a loved with Alzheimer’s. Readers may want to explore this article which discusses other Medicaid and Veterans’ benefits for Alzheimer’s.”

Seeking Financial Assistance From Medicaid

Medicaid is jointly funded by both the federal government and the individual’s state of residence. It uses an asset/income-based qualification system that is quite strict in its qualification. Only those with very low asset/income levels or who have no financial resources are eligible for Medicaid. 

In order to protect the system from abuse, there are extremely stringent laws preventing individuals from transferring property, assets or wealth to other family members ahead of time in order to qualify for assistance.

Those who legitimately qualify for Medicaid can expect all or a portion of their medical expenses to be covered, including nursing home or residential skilled nursing care. 

However, be aware that not all nursing homes, assisted living facilities or memory care centers take Medicaid. In almost all cases, those who qualify for Medicaid must move or transfer to a state home- or community-based healthcare option to receive the benefits.

Early Planning Is Key To Securing Financing Before A Move Is Necessary

We can’t emphasize enough how much proactive research and planning ease the financial path toward memory care and assisted living. 

By methodically going through the options, you’ll piece together a plan that works for your household budget. Giving yourself extra time means more opportunities to secure financing sources you may not think about or remember in knee-jerk crisis mode.

We also recommend utilizing local Alzheimer’s and dementia support groups, as well as online support groups and discussion forums. The individuals and facilitators in those groups have years of experience and wisdom behind them. You may learn about creative patch-working of financing opportunities you wouldn’t hear or read about otherwise.

And, of course, the staff at your prospective memory care centers or assisted living facilities should be informative on the topic of Medicare/Medicaid financing as well. Their willingness to walk you through some basics, sharing their information and advice, can be viewed as part of the interview process and shed light into the heart and soul of the center’s administration and staff.

Learn more about selecting and financing memory care in these related articles:

Why Is There A Deposit For Memory Care?

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There is no mystery around the fact that covering costs associated with assisted living and memory care facilities requires astute financial planning. The sooner you begin planning for these costs, the better.

Read, How To Find Affordable Memory Care & Assisted Living, for more information on assessing the total costs (first-time and long-term) of your prospective location(s).

Understanding Deposits For Memory Care

One of the most immediate payments you’ll make is the deposit fee for the memory care center you’ve selected. These fees exist for a variety of reasons. First, and foremost, they indicate an expression of more serious intention and your commitment to a chosen facility.

As with any business, especially a residential facility, a fair amount of time goes into hosting tours, meeting with prospective families, preparing rooms, etc.

That also includes communicating with and maintaining relationships with individuals, couples or families who are intent on becoming future residents there or who are helping to transition loved ones into assisted living.

Your deposit not only indicates your level of commitment, but it also protects waiting lists from becoming overly burdened by names and contacts who are only vaguely interested and helps navigate the flow of a waiting list.

Early planning minimizes the amount you’ll spend on deposits

We can’t emphasize enough how important it is to begin touring prospective memory care and assisted living options as early as possible.

By doing so, you won’t feel under pressure to make a rushed or lesser-informed decision. Your proactive selection and decision-making process also prevent you from finding yourself in crisis mode, needing to find something immediately and having to pass up ideal locations for facilities that are not up to par.

In terms of paying deposits, your early touring, interviewing and selection of one desired location means you’ll only have to pay a single deposit. This is optimal compared with individuals or couples forced to make rushed and desperate decisions, and wind up investing substantial sums in multiple deposits so they can jump at the first place that opens up.

Don’t assume all deposits are refundable

There are no boilerplate protocols for how assisted living and memory care centers handle deposits. It’s imperative that you ask for all of the large and small print information pertaining to your deposit(s), particularly if you’re making multiple deposits to hold spots in various facilities.

Also, understand that “refundable” may not mean “100% refundable no matter what.” Here at the Memory Center, we require deposits from future clients securing a spot on our waiting list to optimize efficiency on our end. However, our deposits are fully refundable if you choose to get off the list, regardless of the reason why.

Varying deposit/refund policies at other facilities include:

  • Deposit is non-refundable. Period.
  • Deposits are only partially refundable
  • Deposits are only refunded if there is proven, medical or health-related reason you’re removing someone from the list
  • Deposits are (fully or partially) refunded after the person passes away or must go into a more acute healthcare facility
  • The deposit may or may not hold a specific room or floor plan for you, so ask if this is important and find out what you need to do to hold a specific room/plan.

The bottom line is you should never hand over or sign anything regarding a financial commitment or deposit until you fully understand the policies.

Deposits typically hold steady if you need to wait for the next available space

Again, this fact should be verified with the desired facility.

The large majority of the time, deposits remain intact if you are contacted for an available space but aren’t quite ready to move in. This isn’t uncommon, especially if you were told the wait was about 90-days and you get a call two weeks later.

At The Memory Center, we simply move to the next name on the list and you retain your Number 1 spot on the list until the next availability opens up. This sequence continues until the timing is finally right for you.

Ask about incentives or specials

Sometimes memory care centers offer incentives or specials that waive or reduce a deposit or certain move-in fees. Occasionally they are advertised but often they are not, so it’s worth asking just in case.

Similarly, many higher-end facilities hold a limited number of rooms available for Medicaid patients. While the waiting lists for these rooms tend to be much longer, your pre-planning could pay off, allowing you or a loved one to move into a desirable location with substantially reduced payments.

A poor fit still forfeits the deposit

Unfortunately, deciding that the new place isn’t a good fit, doesn’t have the services your loved one requires or you’ve received a call from your first choice and want to move in there almost always means forfeiting a deposit.

Understand the community’s exit options

In other words, if your loved one passes away, which (if any) fees or deposits are paid back to the estate. There are a variety of ways assisted living and memory care centers handle this delicate subject, and it’s critical that you understand their policy clearly before committing.

The best way to handle it is to have this topic at the ready with your other list of questions that you ask while touring facilities and meeting with various management and staff. While verbal assurances are lovely, always get any information pertaining to finances or policies in writing so you have something to fall back on.

Evaluating Memory Care Deposits

The world of finance seems cold and calculated when you’re diligently trying to seek the best, heartfelt and personalized care for your loved one.

However, making the time to complete your due diligence and understand all of the fine print provides peace of mind when you select the memory care center that’s best and move your loved one into their new home.

Learn More About Memory Care Pricing

How To Find Affordable Memory Care & Assisted Living

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The first priority in locating quality memory care or assisted living options is finding a place that you trust and that is known for its high-quality care.

The second priority is finding a place you can afford.

Factors To Evaluate When Searching For Affordable Memory Care

It’s important to perform thorough due-diligence when comparing the costs of various memory care and assisted living facilities.

Unfortunately, many facilities hide “extra costs” when advertising their per/month rates, and that can become detrimental if your loved one has moved in and you find the monthly charge is notably more than you estimated.

Moving into an assisted living facility can be hard, and it can be even more so if you have to move your loved one to yet another facility as the result of hidden fees or unexpected costs.

Similarly, the very act of terminating the contract at one facility and establishing a new one can cost you thousands of wasted dollars. This is because, in addition to losing the remaining balance on the existing contract, odds are you’ll have another deposit and other associated fees attached to the new contract.

Identifying affordable assisted living or memory care options doesn’t have to be challenging. If numbers and details aren’t your forte, enlist the help of a family member, friend or your accountant to review paperwork with you and make sure you aren’t missing anything before making your final choice.

Ultimately, you want to choose a place that has the highest-quality care, meals, amenities and activities for the most affordable price.

Comparing Advertised Cost & Hidden Costs

One of the most important things to keep in mind when searching for affordable assisted living or memory care is the discrepancy between the “advertised cost” and the “hidden costs.”

When you’re making such an important choice, you need all of the facts at hand to make a well-informed decision, and this includes a complete and detailed list of all costs – not just the basic “room and board” fees.

Common Fees Included (but not always)

Here are some of the most common fees included in a general price estimate. Keep in mind that every facility is different, so you’ll want to confirm specific costs with each prospective facility you visit.

  • Rent
  • Meals
  • Housekeeping
  • Access to general exercise and activities

Those are just the basics, and you may be surprised to find that other services you “assumed” were included (often the services the facility promotes during your tour and visits) cost extra.

Ask About Hidden Fees

Some of the hidden fees that might surprise you include:

  • Certain occupational or physical therapies prescribed by medical staff
  • Periodic “assessment fees,” similar to HOA dues, that are bumped up over time
  • Hygiene costs, including dressing, bathing, incontinence care, and laundry
  • Medication management and medication distribution
  • The initial (and possibly subsequent) health screenings
  • On-site physician and pharmacy access
  • Treatment for temporary wounds, illnesses or injuries
  • General wellness monitoring, such as blood pressure or blood sugar levels
  • Escorts to activities or dining center(s)
  • Periodic wellness check-ins
  • Transportation to various events, outings, or off-site appointments
  • Extra fees for deep-cleaning of the bathroom or other areas
  • Moving costs
  • Telephone charges
  • Fees/charges for contracted- or atypical special events, classes or activities

While charging extra for non-contracted services and extras isn’t unethical, it’s imperative that you know exactly what is included – and what is not – so you can plan accordingly.

For example, your preferred memory care center may charge extra for off-site transportation, and that’s fine. By knowing that, you can get your preferences in writing, stating that your spouse or loved one is only budgeted to go on inclusive outings OR a stated number of charged outings per month.

Are Special Amenities & Services Worth The Extra Money?

When you’re touring various facilities, take a good, analytical look at their amenities, classes, and services. You may be surprised when you factor in your total budget and find that spending slightly more per month for a memory care center with superior amenities is well-worth it.

For one thing, you and your family members will save money each week if you’re able to join your spouse, parent or grandparent at the in-house Pub or Cafe, or to catch a movie at the on-site theater.

The water exercise, aerobics, yoga or dance classes offered as part of an all-inclusive assisted living facility may be more affordable than the gym membership and other extracurricular dues and fees your loved one insisted in keeping up, even after s/he couldn’t attend anymore.

Does All-Inclusive Affordable Memory Care Mean All-Inclusive?

When you keep the above “hidden charges” potential in mind, all-inclusive memory care centers begin to look more affordable. What used to seem like a notably higher per/month charge now starts to become more reasonable.

For example, The Memory Care Center is considered an all-inclusive community. We provide a detailed and itemized list of costs to any prospective and current residents and their families as requested.

Among the basic services, our monthly fees include services such as dressing/grooming and toileting, regular laundry and linen services, items “purchased” from visits to our General Store and any outings offered by our Activities Program and more.

Even so, there are a few things that aren’t included in that “all-inclusive” price.

For example, we charge residents for certain services or items such as:

  • Long-distance telephone calls
  • Incontinence supplies
  • Salon services
  • Transportation to off-site appointments

However, we are always happy to pre-arrange a budget or restrictions based on your wishes.

So, for example, if your mother enjoys her monthly salon appointment, we’ll keep that to once per month and gently remind her of her “upcoming appointment” if she tries to book an extra appointment. Honesty and clarity around charges are essential to making the right decision for your loved one.

Finding Affordable Memory Care & Assisted Living

Ultimately, your prospective memory care and assisted living facilities’ transparency around pricing is indicative of their ethics, integrity and the sincerity of their work.

Sometimes, paying a bit more each month – and knowing that’s all you’ll have to pay – is well worth peace of mind.

Learn about pricing

What If My Loved One Is Afraid To Tour An Assisted Living Facility?

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Life and relationships can get complicated quickly when a parent or senior loved one is afraid to tour assisted living facilities.

It can weigh heavily on you and other family members when an aging parent is outright opposed to discussing the opportunity and/or touring an assisted living or memory care facility. However, that resistance shouldn’t hold you back from taking steps in the right direction.

How To Ease Loved One’s Fears About Assisted Living & Memory Care

The opposition to entertain the idea, even tour a facility, is common, but there are things you can do to help ease their fears and worries and to slowly get them on board.

Read on for five tips to help your aging loved one open up to assisted living or memory care.

1. Start the conversation early to begin exploring the pros and cons

In some cases, the move to assisted living, nursing home or a memory care center takes place virtually overnight – largely the result of a traumatic event or injury that makes it impossible for care to continue at home. This is exactly the scenario you want to avoid.

A loss of independence, fears of declining health or death are the most typical reasons seniors refuse to cooperate with any long-term care plan that involves leaving their home.

The key becomes to help them understand that certain aspects of aging and the progression of dementia are inevitable. It’s important they know their ability to stay more open and inquisitive about the options, the more time they’ll have to be involved in a process that should – ideally – involve their opinions, insights, preferences, aversions, etc.

The other side of the coin is that they aren’t the only one affected by the aging process and as their caregiver, you also have a say regarding how and where care should take place.

Read our Guide for Talking to a Loved One About Memory Care, to start the conversation. If it doesn’t go well – it may require a more independent search process.

2. Keep trying – and get to the heart of the fear/resistance

If at first you don’t succeed, try and try again, right?

While you may want to skip a day or two (or a week) between attempts, odds are your calm, patient and rational reasons for exploring assisted living and memory care options are working more than you know to sway the mind of your loved one.

The key is to get to the heart of the fear and resistance so you can help to assuage them.

Frankly, oftentimes, it’s all of the above.

By getting to the heart of things, your conversations will be more fruitful and will provide insight into the type(s) of information your loved one needs to see, hear and know before s/he’ll be more comfortable exploring the idea – and specific facilities.

Don’t hesitate to seek the help of a licensed therapist, your minister/rabbi/priest, or a trusted physician to help facilitate these conversations.

3. Enlist the help of more objective “Others”

Most of us are the least responsive and cooperative when being pressed about something we aren’t fond of by the ones we love most. If your spouse, parent or grandparent is having a hard time – or resistant – to speak to you about it, think about who s/he may be more receptive in listening to and speaking with – and reach out for their help.

Is there a more distant relative, a good friend, a neighbor, your trusted home care aide, a spiritual advisor, a former colleague, fellow golfer or book club member, etc. who may get a more open ear? Maybe it’s time to enlist that person – or all of the above.

Over time, and with a few different conversations from more objective “Others,” you may find the way has eased a bit.

4. Visit a few memory care options – on your own

The fact remains that at some point, most individuals with dementia or Alzheimer’s are going to need professional care. If you wait too long to begin the search, out of respect for your loved one’s fear or resistance, things become very stressful, very quickly, when that point is reached.

You may be surprised and find that once you embark on the search for the best memory care center, your loved one becomes more curious and warms up to coming along. Even if they don’t, you may find s/he begins dropping hints about what s/he would want or not want, or may even ask you questions.

In any case, it’s always best to visit and tour a few different assisted living or memory care centers so you can compare apples-to-apples and get a feel for which one offers the environment and services that best match your loved one’s needs. Feel free to bring a trusted family member or friend to keep you company and another set of objective eyes and ears.

Use these Questions to Ask When Visiting Memory Care Communities, and we also recommend recording your tours and/or the Q&A sessions with admin and staff so you have something to playback later on. If and when your loved one grows more respective, these recordings will be helpful in allowing him/her to be part of the decision making process.

5. Make sure you have enough emotional support

Being a caregiver and/or a close family member to someone with dementia or Alzheimer’s is incredibly challenging on its own. The decision to begin transitioning your loved one to a memory care center adds another layer of complication to the mix – and it is exponentially taxing when the person in question is afraid, worried, resistant or uncooperative.

It’s essential that you have the social and emotional support you need as you move through this process. Look for support venues and groups in your area and utilize them. Support groups for spouses and caregivers for those with dementia provide the opportunities to commune with others who know exactly what you’re going through.

Both volunteer support groups and organizations dedicated to senior care are a wealth of information and advice, and there’s a great chance someone you meet will have a recommendation or a strategy that works to facilitate your assisted living tour plan.

Reducing Fear Over Assisted Living & Memory Care

At the end of the day, your loved one is entitled to their own opinions and should have a say in the final decision.

Regardless of their stance on the matter, it’s important to offer continued support and guidance as you, together, make steps towards a favorable outcome for everyone.  

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